In the 1850s the first Catholic schools were established in Fairfield County. They were all small and taught by the laity. Saint James in Bridgeport, Saint Mary in Norwalk and Saint Peter in Danbury opened in private homes. By 1876 Sisters of Mercy were invited to by the rector of Saint John’s in Stamford to establish a mission in the parish school. By the turn of the century, the Sisters of Mercy were joined with other teaching congregations. With immigration on the rise in the early 1900s, 21 parish schools had been established.

By 1953 there were 279 parishes in the state that comprised the Diocese of Hartford which had the largest Catholic population of any diocese in the United States outside of Brooklyn, NY. It was decided by the Vatican to split the state into three dioceses. The first bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport was Lawrence Joseph Shehan who opened 3 diocesan high schools, 15 parochial elementary schools and started construction on an additional five. Notre Dame High School opened accommodating 2,200 students and was the largest Catholic high school in New England and the largest secondary school in the country. Soon after, Norwalk Central Catholic High School was built teaching over 1,000 students by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The school is now the site for All Saints Elementary School.

Today there is a renaissance in Catholic education in the Diocese of Bridgeport. 9,000 students attend our 20 elementary schools, 5 high schools, and 1 special education school, St. Catherine’s Academy.